On Thursday, October 26, 2017, Internet Governance Lab Faculty Fellow and Director of AU’s Communication Studies Division Dr. Kathryn Montgomery will discuss the wide-ranging implications of Internet-connected health wearables at a conference organized by the Department of Health and Human Services. The presentation, titled “Health Wearables: Ensuring Privacy, Security, and Equity in an Emerging Internet-of-Things Environment,” draws on Dr. Montgomery’s research at the intersection of the Internet of Things and privacy, including an AU and Center for Digital Democracy study (funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation), looking at the privacy and consumer protection concerns raised by the proliferation of health and fitness wearables, which consumers are increasingly using to track everything from their heart rates to sleep patterns and stress levels.
“Many of these devices are already being integrated into a growing Big Data digital health and marketing ecosystem, which is focused on gathering and monetizing personal and health data in order to influence consumer behavior,” the report explains. As the use of these devices becomes more widespread, and as their functionalities become increasingly sophisticated, “the extent and nature of data collection will be unprecedented.”
As Dr. Montgomery explains, “the connected-health system is still in an early, fluid stage of development,” adding, “there is an urgent need to build meaningful, effective, and enforceable safeguards into its foundation.”
On Wednesday, October 18th, from 3-4:30 pm in Batelle-Tompkins Atrium, the American University Literature Department and the Internet Governance Lab will host a colloquium on Orwell’s 1984 and its relevance to the contemporary cyber context.
All sectors of the economy and society are now digitally mediated, made possible by the Faustian bargain of pervasive and privatized surveillance in which citizens relinquish personal data in exchange for free services. Authoritarian and democratic nation-states alike enact expansive surveillance, either for politically motivated censorship, identification of dissidents, or law enforcement and intelligence gathering. The same technologies that have provided unprecedented opportunities for creative expression, innovation, and free speech are used for all manner of social, political, and economic control. Modern flashpoints such as the Snowden NSA surveillance disclosures and Russia’s cybersecurity incursions and influence campaigns during the 2016 American presidential election have attracted greater public attention to longstanding tensions between cybersecurity and human rights. This panel will bring together experts in cyberpolitics and cybersecurity to examine Orwell’s 1984 through the lens of the contemporary cyber-surveillance state. How has the language of Orwell shaped/constructed modern cyber discourses? How do the modern surveillance state and underlying political tensions differ from Orwell’s dystopian vision? How would 1984 have been re-written in light of contemporary technological capabilities? Speakers include:
Moderator: Dr. Linda Voris
Professor in the Department of Literature
Dr. Derrick Cogburn
Faculty Director, Internet Governance Lab at American University
Professor in the School of International Service
Dr. Laura DeNardis
Author of The Global War for Internet Governance (Yale University Press)
SOC Professor and Faculty Director, Internet Governance Lab at American University
Dr. Eric Novotny
Professor in the School of International Service
Faculty Fellow, Internet Governance Lab at American University
Colonel (Ret) Randolph Rosin
Faculty of the National Intelligence University
Internet Governance Lab Research Fellow
On Friday, October 13th from 3-4:30pm, the Internet Governance Lab, in collaboration with the Freedom of the Press Foundation, the Center for Media and Social Impact, and the Washington, D.C. chapter of the Internet Society, will host a discussion providing practical steps students, faculty, and all members of the AU community can take to protect themselves from a variety of digital threats.
The event will take place in McKinley and is free and open to the public.
Facilitated by Harlo Holmes of Freedom of the Press, the event will address strategies for protecting data from hackers, how to spot and avoid phishing attempts, preventing corporate and state surveillance, and general best practices for securing users’ digital rights in what can feel like an ocean of constantly shifting threats.
We look forward to seeing you there.
The Internet Governance Lab is pleased to announce that Dr. Andrew Rens will be joining us as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow. In this capacity, he will be running a research program focused on technology governance of the Internet of Things. As Dr. Rens explains:
The Internet of Things raises complex issues of ownership and control, privacy, and surveillance, ubiquity, and fragility. Some press accounts narrate these issues as consumers versus corporations in which consent is key. But the Internet of Things is mostly the Internet of Other People’s Things, we interact with these Internet-connected objects as employees, students, tenants, and citizens. The things are not simply data input devices, however intrusive but technologies with immediate physical effects such as networked 3D printers. Questions around the governance of the Internet of Things (IoT) exhibit the same super complexity as Internet governance generally; with multiple sites of governance and actors operating across legal borders.
The IoT is promising for the developing world and digital inclusion. Through cheap sensors and the ability to fabricate equipment, the IoT may dramatically lower barriers to scientific experimentation. Every classroom could potentially be a laboratory. But will the Internet of Things be configured to optimize these possibilities? How will development and human rights be taken into account when governance is neither state nor corporate but takes place through technical standards, protocols and engineering organizations.
Who will control the “things” in the IoT and what will determine this control? Will it be intellectual property law or standards? Open source offers one way in which the people most affected by a technology can exercise some control over it. Open source software and its associated governance structures have proven resistant to control through intellectual property laws. Will a combination of open source software and open hardware prove similarly robust? Even if open source methods best enables innovation will it control the potentially pernicious uses such as printing guns with a 3D printer?
Rens earned a Doctor of Juridical Science (SJD) from Duke University Law School for research on using open copyright licenses in education. As a Shuttleworth Foundation Fellowship, he pioneered work on access to knowledge, IP law reform and open education in South Africa. Andrew Rens has been a fellow at the Stanford Center for Internet and Society, a research associate at the LINK Center at the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, and the University of Cape Town Intellectual Property Law Research Unit. As founding Legal Lead of Creative Commons South Africa, he ported the South African licensing suite to South African law. He earned a Master of Laws from the University of the Witwatersrand for research on Internet legal issues. He has taught Master’s courses in Intellectual Property, Telecommunications, Broadcasting, Space and Satellite, and Media and Information Technology Law at the Law School of the University of the Witwatersrand. He has also taught Telecommunications Law and Electronic Intellectual Property Law at the University of Cape Town Law School.
Please join us in welcoming Dr. Rens to the Internet Governance Lab and AU and we look forward to hearing from him soon on the always evolving intersection of the IoT and Internet governance.
On Wednesday, September 20, 2017, Ukranian cyber expert Andrii Paziuk will discuss “Digital Policy, Civil Rights, and Security” as part of the Internet Governance Lab’s Roundtable Speaker Series. The event will take place at 2:30 pm in McKinley Room 305.
As a 2017-18 Humphrey Fellow at AU’s Washington College of Law, Mr. Paziuk’s work draws on his experience in government, industry, and academia to explore questions focused on the intersection of cybersecurity, privacy, and transborder data flows.
Prior to joining AU Mr. Paziuk worked for the Parliament of Ukraine as a legal adviser and an assistant to Members of Parliament. Since 2012, Mr. Paziuk has been a lecturer and LL.M. program moderator of International Cyber Law at Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv. He completed his Ph.D. thesis on the protection of privacy and personal data trans-border flows in 2004 and his post-doctoral thesis on International Cyber Law in 2016. Paziuk is also an adviser to the State Special Telecommunications and Information Protection Service, a member of the Steering Committee of Ukrainian National Internet Governance Forum, and co-founder and chairman of the NGO Partners for Digital Rights Defenders and Vice-President to the Ukrainian Academy of Cyber Security. His current research is focused on ‘The Rule of Law and Internet Governance’ exploring recent trends in digital policy and law, civil rights, and security issues.